Last Friday i went to Toulouse/France for a two days city visit. The main purpose however was to see the Airbus facilities.
I flew to TLS with LH (Cityline) Avro85 that was parked in a remote lot close to the Cargo section of FRA A/P. It was my first Avro flight and i liked it very much. Seating was in 5 abreast which was quite comfortable. Take-off was from Runway 180, the bird was airborne after a short takeoff roll.
The Airbus facilities are basically on the opposite side of the TLS passenger Terminal. To reach it, you have to go in the direction of AUCH. The infrastructure at the airport and the surroundings is very modern and green.
After a short drive passing by the headquarters of Airbus Industries and ATR, we reached the facilities of Aerospetiale Marta. There is a reception building for the guided tour, among other things it includes a souvenir shop with many itmes (nice clothing items!) .
We were taken in a bus with a nice french guide to the tarmac where the almost finished planes were parked. Some of them were ready for the test flights or rather delivery: some 4 A320 for TACA, one A330/ EK, 3 A330 for US, one A340-300 for LH, and one A300-600 for UPS and some other planes not finished completely still in the colors of the original fuselage (light green/yellow) where only the fin was in the colours of the customer airline, those included: one A330-300 for TAM, A340-300 LH, one A320/AF and one A320/SN. Then we reached the Hanger that is built for the A3XX, there was a AOM A340-300 parked there and it appeared very small due to the huge size of the hanger. Unfortunatelly no photography is allowed at no point, so i had to leave my camera outside L
On the other side of the tarmac there was a super Gubby plane (Sp.?) it looked so damn odd with it's fat belly!
Some other hangers could be seen like the one for painting the birds and many places where the parts from other factories flown in mainly with the Beluga (A3000-600 Airbus transporter) were temporarily stored, those included many fins (White with black lines marking the edges) and parts of the wings.
The next step was the biggest hanger there, the assembly line of the A330/340. If iam not mistaken, it is the biggest plane hanger in europe, it is about 500 m long and 46 Meters high, it covers 12 acres. At the entrance there is a nice model of the A340-600 (about 2,5 meters long) and a huge sign showing the diffrent models of Airbus with the respective range of each. We took the lift up, before we were guided to a cinema room where a 15 minutes film was shown. They argued that the first flight ever was not in the US (Wright brothers) rather a french guy (i forgot the name) in toulouse with a strange and very funny looking plane.
Then we went around in this huge hall. At the ceiling they had the big moving cranes one of them can carry up to 20 tons and the other up to 40 tons. Some 4 planes were being assembled, one A330 (couldn't recognize the customer airline) one A330 for CX, one A330/EK, A340/LH and last but not least the biggest surprise, the first A340-600, it looks giant with it's Trent engines, the first section in front of the wings seems endless long. The thing that surprised me was how quite it is there, you hardly hear loud movements. The other funny thing is that the works (a total of 8000 works in TLS) there don't work on weekends!!! I think this will change as soon as Airbus is privatized. In the adjusant area we saw many plane parts being delivered from the other airbus facilities in Europe and prepared before being assembled, this included some very nice cross-sections of A330, you could see the area where the wings will be placed. Many horizental stabilizers and some wings. A Roboter machine (about 10X 5 meters) is towed to the fuselage section to mainly perform blanks. The floor between the planes was extremely clean.
On the way back to the enterance building, we passed by a model of the concorde (original size) in the old colors of Air France. Beside it, was a beauty of a super caravelle in the colors of Aerospetiale ( White with black strips) seeing this first jet plane built by Aerospetiale with the planes waiting for delivery in the background was very refreshing!
The next day i tried to find some glass spots in the Passenger terminal of TLS airport , i found some nice area in the restaurant Horizon, one floor above the check-in area. You cna see the tarmac, Runway and most important, the airbus facilities, however it was late afternoon and a bit far away for a 300mm lense, i think you will need at least a 500mm lense to shot good pics (A340/A330) from that distance. After sunset it started to rain, the flight back to FRA was an AVRO85 with a nice crew and a good looking blond female first officer.
For those interested, the company running the tours in Marta is: (Advance reservationis required)
Address: 10, av. Guynemer- 31770 Colomiers- France